The rumor mill surrounding Apple’s next smartphone venture will most certainly get a kick-start today after a Foxconn employee slipped to 9to5Mac that the device dubbed the ‘iPhone 5’ is already prepped for production.

If true, it would indicate a summer release – a launch pattern which had been uniformly maintained until le grande delay of the iPhone 4S last year. It seems tight-ship-running Apple is looking to get back on track with a prospective WWDC ’12 announcement, something which will certainly appease those who’ve claimed to be holding out for the iPhone 5.

Apparently, there are several sample devices doing the rounds, all of which have slightly different traits, thus it’s pretty difficult to surmise what to expect from the next iPhone at such an early stage.

Apple is renowned for keeping plans, ideas, and future products under wraps, but one or two interesting details have emerged. Although we’ve no pictures for you to drool over, the current prototypes all sport 4+ inch screens, all of which are manufactured by LG. There’s been much talk as to why Apple has stood by the 3.5inch display hitherto, whilst rivals have opted for a more bigger is better approach.

Designer Dustin Curtis suggested in the midst of the iPhone 4S release back in October that the fruit company may have considered the average thumb simply cannot reach a diameter of more than 3.5 inches, meaning iPhone users can enjoy full functionality with one hand. With this in mind, we’d certainly be intrigued to see if Apple does follow the precedent set my the many Android devices on the market in terms of display real-estate.

iPhone5_mockup

Form factor is anyone’s guess, with none of the samples bearing the hallmarks of the iPhone 4/4S design, nor sporting the teardrop look toyed with in the run-up to the iPhone 4S. Indeed, all the samples are said to be symmetrical in thickness, as well as longer and wider than any of the five preceding iPhones since the initial 2007 launch.

If the iPad 2 speculation is anything to go on, Foxconn won’t be dealing with the majority of production duties, with Apple seeming to favor Pegatron in what has been a mass shake-up of the manufacturing process.

Still, if the leaked information turns out to be accurate, we’re all ears.

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